Photo Courtesy: MGNonline/United States Fish and Wildlife Service

Photo Courtesy: MGNonline/United States Fish and Wildlife Service

BOSTON (SHNS) – Marijuana has become the “next tobacco industry,” with commercial interests marketing gummy bears and cupcakes and emergency rooms experiencing an increase in marijuana-related visits in his state, a Colorado health activist said during a visit to Boston Monday.

Colorado voters backed medical marijuana in 2000, and by 2012, the same year they legalized recreational marijuana, there were 532 medical marijuana dispensaries in the Rocky Mountain state, according to Bob Doyle, chair of the Colorado Smart Approaches to Marijuana Coalition. “The commercialization exploded,” he said.

“This is what commercialization brings: it brings legitimacy, more sophisticated operations,” Doyle added. “We now have access and influence to the political system. We have marijuana lobbyists all over the state, we have former elected officials going to work for the marijuana lobby, we have more promotion, we’re mass producing products, more potent products. We have branding, better drug delivery devices, we have high use among adults and youth and we have a greater burden going on to our families, employer systems.”

Doyle spoke to a small group at the UMass Club, a gathering put together by Smart Approaches to Marijuana’s Massachusetts branch.

A potential 2016 ballot question in Massachusetts could propose legalizing marijuana for recreational use.

Bill Downing, treasurer of Bay State Repeal, as the effort is known, said the proposed language will not be submitted to the attorney general’s office until next year. The group will also be pursuing Beacon Hill legislation in the 2015-2016 legislative session to allow recreational use of marijuana, he added.

In November, voters in a number of legislative districts will be able to cast a ballot with a non-binding question asking whether marijuana prohibition should be repealed.

Downing dismissed Doyle’s …read more